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 Post subject: New computer + external graphics card?
Post #1 Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:49 pm 
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As I have mentioned before, I am planning to get a new computer soon. I am thinking of building it myself, or possibly get some help with that. Anyway, in doing my research I have found that powerful graphics cards run hot, and that the ambient temperature matters. Also, everything heats up inside the box. So, even though nobody who builds their own has suggested it, I have wondered about using the powerful card outside the box, where it would be easier to cool and would not absorb heat from other parts inside the box, nor heat them up.

AFAICT, the main problem with hooking the card up externally (or possibly two cards in the future, but not likely) could create a bottleneck. If nothing else, distance matters, IIUC.

I am planning to develop some models for pedagogical purposes, not for competing with top bots. For instance, models that play different forms of the capture game, a model to play difference games, one to play coupon go, maybe an analyst instead of a player.

Any advice welcome. Many thanks. :)

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Post #2 Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:06 pm 
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Building a computer is actually quite easy. The hard part is making sure everything is compatible so just run your build through https://uk.pcpartpicker.com/ Connecting it all up is super easy as most connections only fit in one place.

Liquid cooling is probably your best option at keeping everything as cool as possible inside the box.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having the GPU outside of the case. I've never heard of it causing a bottleneck even with the use of pcie risers. For instance, look up ethereum mining rigs. People run several GPUs outside of the case with the intention of getting maximum performance from each GPU.


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Post #3 Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:25 pm 
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Many thanks, Carl. :)

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Post #4 Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 2:18 pm 
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For what it's worth, my PC is in Australia, in a room without air conditioning, with my GTX 1070 GPU inside the box, and I've never had a problem with it running too hot. You need a big enough box (something sold as a "gaming PC") and at least two fans. My PC case also has a front panel that's designed for easy removal (press, release and lift, almost as easy as opening a cupboard door) if you need better air circulation. Ambient temperatures for me in summer are almost always above 20 centigrade, often in the mid 20s, and sometimes slightly over 30. (That's approx 60-90 fahrenheit for anyone who hasn't gone metric yet.)

I guess you might have issues if your neighbourhood is hotter than mine, or you're using a much more powerful GPU, or you have limited space and need your PC to be inside a smaller case. My previous PC (without GPU) did overheat sometimes on a hot day, but it wasn't in a gaming case, so the ventilation wasn't so good.


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Post #5 Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 5:31 pm 
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I recommend using a good air cooled case.

(They have no problems with the temps of GPUs. I use a Fractal Design Define R6 myself.)

I prefer a good air cooled system over liquid cooling all the time. It is often even more quiet than a liquid cooled system and less disturbing than the noisy pumps of liquid cooled systems.

An external GPU has no advantages for a desktop system.


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Post #6 Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:31 pm 
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Many thanks, xela and Gomoto. :)

From what y'all say and from a little more research, I gather that having two fans, one exhaust and one side panel intake fan should be just fine. :)

I live in a temperate climate, the San Francisco Bay area, but in an old house with poor insulation and no air conditioning and my office/den gets a lot of sun, so that it is not unusual for temperature in the room to reach around 32° C. in a summer afternoon. From what I read the average temperature in the computer would be around 39° C. The GPU itself would be even hotter, OC. This summer I used a fan blowing over a bowl of ice water to cool the room well into the night. This summer maybe I should place the bowl beside the computer. ;)

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Post #7 Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 7:21 pm 
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Bill Spight wrote:
Many thanks, xela and Gomoto. :)

From what y'all say and from a little more research, I gather that having two fans, one exhaust and one side panel intake fan should be just fine. :)

I live in a temperate climate, the San Francisco Bay area, but in an old house with poor insulation and no air conditioning and my office/den gets a lot of sun, so that it is not unusual for temperature in the room to reach around 32° C. in a summer afternoon. From what I read the average temperature in the computer would be around 39° C. The GPU itself would be even hotter, OC. This summer I used a fan blowing over a bowl of ice water to cool the room well into the night. This summer maybe I should place the bowl beside the computer. ;)

Note that the GPU never gets all that hot unless you run a demanding game, or maybe a Go engine. You can simply choose to do neither on the hottest days of the year.


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Post #8 Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:24 pm 
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We had some problems with cooling in the past (on heavily used machines), and our standard practice now is to remove one whole side of the box of any new system and replace it with one huge fan. This can be done cheaply and is reasonably effective. (There are theories about airflows in boxes etc, but in practice we found this gives best results.)


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Post #9 Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:19 am 
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bernds wrote:
Note that the GPU never gets all that hot unless you run a demanding game, or maybe a Go engine. You can simply choose to do neither on the hottest days of the year.


Many thanks, bernds. :) What with global warming, I may get a small air conditioner, anyway.

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Post #10 Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:21 am 
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jann wrote:
We had some problems with cooling in the past (on heavily used machines), and our standard practice now is to remove one whole side of the box of any new system and replace it with one huge fan. This can be done cheaply and is reasonably effective. (There are theories about airflows in boxes etc, but in practice we found this gives best results.)


Many thanks, jann. Is that an intake fan or an exhaust fan?

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 Post subject: Re: New computer + external graphics card?
Post #11 Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 3:38 pm 
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Bill - I have built my last two PCs - I used a CoolerMaster case for each. I have never used an external card though.

Some advice - get a good size case - its better for air flow and easier for your fingers to assemble. CoolerMaster currently advertise a Mastercase 5 - which supports up to 6 140mm fans and then there are those on your graphics card as well. CoolerMaster cases support water cooling and are aimed at performance PCs - eg gaming. Make sure the fans are advertised as quiet!

Check how many graphics cards your motherboard and case will hold - a small case might be problematic as cards can be quite large and take up 2 slots or possibly more.

Check the total power supply requirements and allow for adding more stuff later - eg another graphics card - there are tools on the web. I have kept my PCs for 5-10 years - so plan ahead and get max memory now - in 2-3 years time your specific memory might not be available.

Good Luck - John


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Post #12 Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:43 pm 
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John Tilley wrote:
Bill - I have built my last two PCs - I used a CoolerMaster case for each. I have never used an external card though.

Some advice - get a good size case - its better for air flow and easier for your fingers to assemble. CoolerMaster currently advertise a Mastercase 5 - which supports up to 6 140mm fans and then there are those on your graphics card as well. CoolerMaster cases support water cooling and are aimed at performance PCs - eg gaming. Make sure the fans are advertised as quiet!

Check how many graphics cards your motherboard and case will hold - a small case might be problematic as cards can be quite large and take up 2 slots or possibly more.

Check the total power supply requirements and allow for adding more stuff later - eg another graphics card - there are tools on the web. I have kept my PCs for 5-10 years - so plan ahead and get max memory now - in 2-3 years time your specific memory might not be available.

Good Luck - John


Many thanks, John. Great advice! I'll look for a CoolerMaster case. :D What I have seen recommended is a single blower (exhaust) fan for the GPU, instead of the more usual two or three fans that blow onto the GPU.

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Post #13 Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:59 pm 
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Bill Spight wrote:
Is that an intake fan or an exhaust fan?

It blows air inside (which then comes out through the normal airflow openings). Our situation were not the same tho, we mostly had problems with mobo overheating, and sometimes with cpu but not gpu.


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Post #14 Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:54 am 
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jann wrote:
Bill Spight wrote:
Is that an intake fan or an exhaust fan?

It blows air inside (which then comes out through the normal airflow openings). Our situation were not the same tho, we mostly had problems with mobo overheating, and sometimes with cpu but not gpu.


Ah! Thanks again. :D A large intake fan makes sense.

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Post #15 Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:14 pm 
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Building your own PC is really a "do it yourself" endeavor. For any given fan in your case, if you want an exhaust fan instead of an intake or vice versa, you just take the screws out, flip the fan over, and put the screws back in. Voila! So a big case with lots of mounts for fans (not necessarily lots of fans to start with) can be a lot of fun to play around with.

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Post #16 Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:30 pm 
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xela wrote:
For what it's worth, my PC is in Australia, in a room without air conditioning, with my GTX 1070 GPU inside the box, and I've never had a problem with it running too hot. You need a big enough box


I will stop you right there. There is nothing that actually makes a bigger case better for airflow. Room for bigger fans? Sure. Room for a larger card? Definitely. Actually cooler? Who knows?!


xela wrote:
at least two fans.

[citation needed] My GPU runs just fine without an extra fan, it runs at 70C steady state 24/7 at 21C ambient

xela wrote:
you have limited space and need your PC to be inside a smaller case. My previous PC (without GPU) did overheat sometimes on a hot day, but it wasn't in a gaming case, so the ventilation wasn't so good.


Check out my build, it's ridiculously small, yet it houses an RTX 2060 with a riser cable

Image

the GPU itself is a side intake fan in my system, so I have no need for a side intake

my CPU cooler is downdraft style, so it's a second intake on the OTHER side of the system - this is called a sandwich style case

Image

I just have ONE exhaust on the top. The total volume of my case is 5.25L or so. If the case was made differently it could house a longer GPU (if the case was more long than tall).


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Post #17 Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:04 pm 
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I changed the fan at the top, but I am kind of regretting it. I literally forced it in by whittling it a bit on the side. But the problem is that the top grille is not great for noise, so being so CLOSE to it is not good. The reason the case manufacturer put in a smaller fan is to leave a bit of room to decrease noise from the grille. My temperature is 2C lower, but the extra whine is annoying. I turned the fan down, but the average temperature of the GPU still stayed below 70C, so it's still a benefit overall. But I wish I just went with a 15 mm fan for this case to get it further away from the grille. A better pattern probably would have had better noise AND thermals, but I didn't really think of comparing grille patterns!

I also have bad luck with Flex PSUs (that's a form factor - it's a smaller type of PSU). They all have a higher pitched whine from the smaller fan.

So I'd probably go with something like a Velka 5 or a Chinese copy


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Post #18 Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 1:24 am 
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUFRBnJdx3Y

this card is very interesting, it's $300 and has close performance to the $500 2070 Super in SOME compute workloads

I would be curious if it actually has like 20% better performance in Go engines/machine learning

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Post #19 Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 10:19 pm 
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Many thanks to everyone for your kind advice. :)

The computer is up and running with Ubuntu 18.04. More needs to be done to make it ready for deep learning. The 2080 Ti graphics card is currently using the default nouveau driver. The recommended driver is an nvidia-440. I can install a third party driver from PPA repository or download the driver from Nvidia. The Linuxconfig.org site has a good how-to. My question is whether getting the driver from Nvidia is worth the trouble. The procedure is rather involved. I would have to disable the nouveau driver and install the Nvidia driver from the command line. I grew up on the command line, so that is not a particular problem. Still, it's time and trouble and there is a possibility of screwing up. Is it worth it to get the official Nvidia driver?

Many thanks. :)

BTW, I ended up with a hybrid graphics card, more or less by accident. I am happy with the cooling, though. This afternoon my office got up to 25 degrees Centigrade, and it's barely spring. :)

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Post #20 Posted: Thu Mar 12, 2020 12:54 am 
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I think you need the NVidia driver, otherwise CUDA won't work. (I don't know this for sure -- my machine came with Ubuntu and drivers pre-installed, so I haven't tested with the Nouveau driver.) When I upgraded the driver, installing a new version from PPA was pretty straightforward. CUDA on the other hand had to come from Nvidia directly and ate up a couple of hours.

Good luck, and please keep us updated!

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